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Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson crowdfunds $15 million with secret novels on Kickstarter

Brandon Sanderson's been busy, and his fans have responded with massive Kickstarter success.

By Matthew Jackson
Brandon Sanderson YT

You might know Brandon Sanderson as the author of the Mistborn novels, or as the fantasy writer Robert Jordan's widow selected to complete the epic Wheel of Time saga after Jordan passed away in 2007. He's a fantasy author in the classic sense, with a heavy focus on worldbuilding and deep dives into the fictional realms he's created, and despite the length of his novels -- particularly the epic Stormlight Archive series -- he's known for being prolific. Now, he's turned his ability to churn out novels into Kickstarter gold. 

On Monday, Sanderson launched a surprise Kickstarter that he dubbed simply "Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson," and his fans responded quickly and massively. Within a day, the campaign had topped $15 million, and as of this writing it's nearing 20 times its initial fundraising goal of $1 million, with nearly 75,000 people backing the campaign so far. 

The Four Secret Novels Kickstarter promises a full year of new Sanderson releases for backers, with the novels releasing quarterly throughout 2023 in both print and audio formats, along with merchandise and other rewards to people who are willing to pledge higher amounts to the campaign. So far, all four books remain untitled, and Sanderson has promised minimal spoilers ahead of their release to backers, to keep the whole "Top Secret" vibe of the campaign working. 

But of course, Sanderson hasn't just been plotting a secret Kickstarter campaign for the last couple of years. He's also still working on other traditionally published projects, including three that arrived in 2021 alone. did this happen? Well, let's just say Brandon Sanderson probably had a more productive quarantine than you did. 

In a YouTube video posted to his official channel on Monday, Sanderson both revealed the surprise novels and attempted to explain how they came about even as he continued to work on other projects. As he explained it, in the days before the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling and touring took up much of Sanderson's non-writing work time, and he was on the road more than 100 days a year to promote his books and give talks. He was planning to cut back somewhat, but the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 meant that he was able to suddenly and unexpectedly cut travel entirely out of his life for a long period of time. With that sudden reserve of extra time, he began writing a secret novel as a gift to his wife Emily. Then he wrote another, and another, and...well, you get the idea.

"Look, I know. Don't roll your eyes at me," Sanderson said in his introductory video. "You deal with isolation and quarantine in your way, I'll deal with it in mine. We all handle stress differently, OK?"

In the process of explaining himself, Sanderson revealed that he's actually written five "extra" books over the last two years, one of which is a middle grade book, written for his children, that he hasn't decided what to do with just yet. The other four are part of the Kickstarter package, and include one completely "different" new work and three books set in his massive Cosmere shared universe, the home of MistbornThe Stormlight Archive, and other Sanderson series. 

If you're interested in getting your hands on these books, you can head over to the Kickstarter and get PDFs of each release for roughly $10 per novel. If you'd rather wait for a more traditional publishing route, Sanderson says that's "possible" in the future. If you plan to just sit and stare off into space while pondering what you've done with your life over the course of the last two years...well, you're not alone.